Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Parkinson's petrel

Procellaria parkinsoni

Photo by Ken Havard (Internet Bird Collection)

Common name:
Parkinson's petrel (en); petrel-de-Parkinson (pt); puffin de Parkinson (fr); pardela de Parkinson (es); schwarzsturmvogel (de)

Order Procellariiformes
Family Procellariidae

This species only breeds on Great and Little Barrier Islands, in New Zealand, but wander over the southern and central Pacific as far as the American coast from California to northern Peru.

These birds are about 45 cm long and have a wingspan of 110-115 cm. They weigh 680-720 g.

The Parkinson's petrel is a pelagic hunter, mainly foraging in offshore oceanic waters. They breed in virgin podocarp and mixed broadleaf forests, and also in alpine tussock grasslands, at altitudes of 500-1.200 m.

They mainly hunt squids, but also tunicates, crustaceans and fishes. They regularly associates with dolphins, following them in order to scavenge dead fish from the water, and also feed on scraps from fishing trawlers.

Parkinson's petrels are monogamous and pair for life, breeding in October-June. They nest in colonies, each pair nesting in a burrow in the forest floor where the female lays a single eggs. The egg is incubated by both parents for 56-57 days. The chick is fed by both parents and fledges 14-15 weeks after hatching. They reach sexual maturity at 6 years of age.

IUCN status - VU (Vulnerable)
This species has a small breeding range and a global population of 3.300 individuals. Overall, declines may have occurred in the global population because on Little Barrier the population was reduced by predation to only 50-100 pairs. On Great Barrier, the population is thought to be stable, and a slow increase is suspected on Little Barrier in recent years. Introduced cats decimated the Little Barrier population, killing up to 100% of fledglings in some years, and also taking some adults. Rats, stray dogs, feral cats and feral pigs may also be a threat on Great Barrier, while some birds are caught by commercial long-liners and recreational fishers. Conservation actions have included the eradication of cats and rats in Little Barrier, together with the translocation of fledglings from Great Barrier to Little Barrier to boost the local populations. Recently, feral cat trapping was undertaken on Great Barrier Island, together with a rodent control programme.

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